I recently began reading the magnificent self-help book Women Food and God by Geneen Roth, which “…shows how going beyond the food and the feelings takes you deeper into realms of spirit and soul–to the bright center of your life”. The book is about how we use food to escape facing the pain in our lives. We eat mindlessly to push away awareness of the present.
I won’t be discussing my relationship with food here because I’d need about ten posts or ten years to explore that quagmire. Even my cat has food issues.
What I would like to talk about is my relationship with writing. I find myself focusing too much on reviews and sales. I want to go beyond the critiques — beyond the longing for acceptance — beyond the doubts and insecurities — to reach the “bright center” of writing.
Geneen Roth mentions the malaise we feel in the moment, longing for a change . . . the “When I Get Thin (Change Jobs, Move, Find a Relationship, Leave This Relationship, Have Money) Blues”. I’d like to add to the list the “When I Become a Bestseller Blues” and “When I Receive Critical Appraise Blues”.
On page 58 Ms. Roth writes “It’s called the ‘If Only’ refrain. It’s called postponing your life and your ability to be happy to a future date when then, oh then, you will finally get what you want and life will be good.”
I really identify with the “if only” refrain. How many times do authors think “If only I’d arrive, then I’d be happy”?
I confess getting stuck in that mindless trap. I’m a review whore. I eagerly anticipate reviews of my novels, excitedly opening goodreads.com to see if new readers have found my book and liked it.
What I really want to focus on is the sheer enjoyment of writing — of translating murky visions in my mind to the paper with creativity and clarity. I want to focus on the process, on the now. I want to make myself laugh and cry as I write, and participate in the moment. I want to connect with the reader.
Breathe. Grin devilishly when I torture my characters. See the world from my protagonist’s perspective.
Why do we get sucked into “if only” land? For me, one reason might be my newness and insecurity as a writer. In contrast, I believe I’ve found a more mindful place in my psychology career, sitting with each psychotherapy client and thriving on our connection. I feel confident I can help clients with almost any conundrum they bring to the session. It helps that I’ve been practicing therapy for sixteen years.
I look forward to the time when I’m more experienced and confident as a writer, engaging in the experience without putting off my present enjoyment for that elusive moment in the future when I’ll “arrive”. In the meantime I’ll focus writing my next chapter in On Best Behavior, hanging out with Grant and Sophie, creating their world with love and hope.
One word at a time.
Lisa Sanchez and fellow authors invite you to join our Meet an Author Monday Blog Hop.